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Words Matter

May 5, 2020

At ADDO, we help organizations grow their business and their people, primarily through leadership programs. These programs can be for employees of the organization or for the community.

A couple of weeks ago, a prospective client proactively reached out to me and inquired about ADDO creating an internal development program for her team. When I got on the phone with her, I wanted to understand her organization’s existing approach.

I asked her what I believed to be a simple and appropriate question for this conversation: “What do you currently do for training?” 

She paused and then responded rather curtly, “We don’t do training in our business.” At first, I assumed the tone of frustration was because of a lack of resources currently available to her team. 

But I was wrong. She was passionate about terminology and frustrated by what I said. She responded with a strongly worded statement: “Training is for animals. Education is for humans. Animals need to be trained, but humans need to be educated.”

I caught up. She did not like the word “training.”

Go with me on this journey for a minute: While I do not share her disdain for the word “training” in this area, I genuinely appreciate her focus on using the right words. It was clear to me that for her certain words carried certain meanings, and she was intentional to articulate them clearly.

This conversation, though awkward in the moment, was a good reminder to me that words matter. Every word we use communicates certain feelings and sentiments, whether we intend them to or not. We must choose our words carefully, deliberately, and wisely.

Are you being intentional with your words?

How are you speaking about coworkers and clients?

Does the language you use tend toward the negative?

Do you words build others up or tear others down?

Are you concise and clear so that your words are being understood?

When I look back on this conversation, one of my favorite proverbs comes to mind: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Words matter because words have power.

Use your words wisely.


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